Following are some notes I jotted down recently during three hours of watching a pro football game on TV.
GABBY COMMENTATORS. The major TV networks hire experienced and informed persons to do color commentary on the sports event in progress. But then the network producers forget to tell these persons, “Every so often, shut up for a minute or two. Let the viewers just watch the game in silence and perfect peace.” Constant chatter, no matter how expert, becomes tiresome. Except for rabid sports fans (who probably know all the inside dope already), who need to be told that Kansas City wide receiver Joe Hickey caught passes worth 316 yards during the 2008 season?
THE HUGE BABY GETTING SPRAYED. The Nationwide insurance company is running a TV ad showing a man spraying an oversize infant with a garden hose. Try as I might, I can’t grasp what is the point of the ad, and why it should persuade me to buy insurance from Nationwide.
SHOOT THE BANJO PLAYERS. Another insurance firm, Geico, keeps showing us two men strumming a guitar or banjo while talking about happy people or a happy camel on hump day, stuff like that. The ads have been running for weeks. I wish someone would shoot the two musicians, so to speak, as well as that too-cute lizard with the cockney accent.
SEND SYMPATHY CARDS TO ADVERTISING COPYWRITERS who must come up with new ideas for TV automobile ads. It’s virtually impossible to do so. Car manufacturers are desperate to make the public prefer one make of car or truck from another. The Honda company has installed a vacuum-cleaner device in their new mini-van. Wow, what a great idea to stimulate sales. A truck ad shows a pickup emerging from a huge cloud of desert dust, while a voice-over says, “I doubt if any boy ever put up a poster of a Passat on his bedroom wall.” Or words to that effect. That mysterious ad caused me to look up the meaning of “Passat,” which I found is a Volkswagen vehicle. The most memorable auto ads are the ones informing us that the monthly cost of leasing new cars is nearing $400 or more. Makes me want to go out and kiss the windshield of my paid-for 1998 Subaru station wagon.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE of marketing desperation is the ad run by the Intel people, who make ingredients for computers. The ad says, in effect, “If you want your boss to get you a new computer, just spill coffee all over your old one.” You and I have to remain politically correct in all we do or say, but the Big Boys of Business are free to encourage workers to commit sabotage on society’s most essential tool, the computer.
PROMOTION IS HEAVY FOR A NEW MOVIE named “Hobbit – the Desolation of Smaug.” It’s a documentary about air pollution. (Please forgive the pun. I couldn’t resist it.)
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION is sweeping our land and striking younger men as it goes. Or so it seems to me, from watching the TV ads. I can remember when the ads showed mostly geezers aged 50 and up. But today’s penile pitches are populated by men who look no more than 30 years old. Like most of today’s pharmaceutical ads, the ED message consists of one sentence telling you how great the medicine is, and then launching into a list of reasons you might not want to take it. A final warning: “Ask your doctor if you are healthy enough to engage in sex.” This leads me to wonder if the Affordable Care Act has a sex permission clause included in it. My favorite, although puzzling, ED ad is the one that shows a couple occupying adjoining bathtubs. How kinky can things get, folks? Are we to think pre-coital, post-coital, or are there romantic hijinks most of us have never even heard of?
WOULD YOU LIKE TO PRODUCE A BEST-SELLER? If so, just sit down and write a booklet that explains the meanings of all the electronic gadgets and systems that are for sale to the eager public today. During the football game I watched, my under-educated brain was flooded by TV ads talking about iPods, Androids, iMacs, MacBook Airs, bundling, texting, Xfinity, Verizon and data backups in the cloud. Is it possible today to buy a telephone that does NOT take motion pictures, connect me to the Internet, tell me the weather on Mars, and allow me to listen to a live broadcast from St. Martin the Fields in London? All that information is wonderful, but what does a person do who simply wants to call his Uncle Charlie in Omaha?